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Renovations on First-Year Housing at W&L Begin in May

Work will begin this May on renovations to  Gaines Hall on the Washington and Lee campus as part of an 19-month project to upgrade the University’s first-year housing. The $22.5 million project will also involve a major renovation of Graham-Lees Hall.

According to Tom Kalasky, director of capital projects, plans had originally called for a 24-month process that would begin with Graham-Lees, an older building that lacks air conditioning and an elevator and will require more attention than Gaines.

“But when we were selecting a construction manager, the company we chose, Taylor & Parrish Construction of Richmond, suggested we consider an alternate  phasing plan that began  with Gaines,” said Kalasky. “As a result, we are going to be able to complete the project five months earlier than we had thought, which will not only mean some cost savings t but will also reduce the inconvenience to the residents.”

When construction begins on Gaines Hall, two-thirds of that building will be taken off line, while one-third will continue in service until December 2013. That means that participants in the University’s popular summer programs will be housed in the one-third of Gaines that is operable, as will members of the Class of 2017 when they arrive for the fall term of 2013.

Once the first phase of Gaines Hall is completed, students will be moved from the one-third of the building that was not under construction to the completed section.

In May 2014, renovation to Graham-Lees will begin with the first half  completed in time for first-year students to occupy the renovated section when they arrive that fall. Work on the second half of Graham-Lees will be completed by December 2014.

“Renewing these two buildings was always going to have many logistical challenges,” said Kalasky. “The way we are now approaching it will minimize those challenges, since we have removed one of the student shuffles, when they would have to move from one side Graham-Lees to the other.”

One of the advantages to the revised phasing is that preparations for many of the major changes to Graham-Lees — the HVAC system and the elevator — can begin well before the actual construction starts.

“Gaines is an easier building to renovate,” said Kalasky. “So we will now have more time to do additional investigative research on the best ways to deal with Graham-Lees. In Graham-Lees, we will be shoehorning modern mechanical and electrical systems into a historical structure. We’ve gotten quite a bit of experience on that during the last few years through our work on the Colonnade.”

Gaines Hall, which was built in 1986 and featured suites along a long hallway, will have 21 additional spaces when the remodeling is completed. Graham-Lees is a combination of two buildings — Lees Hall, built in 1904, and Graham Hall, built in 1920. They were connected in the 1940s and last renovated in 1982. There will be 16 fewer spaces in Graham-Lees as a result of the project.

The architectural and planning firm Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas and Co., of Norfolk, Va., has developed  the plans for the renovations.

Meantime, the University’s Board of Trustees continues to analyze and consider proposals from its Residential Life Task Force for additional on-campus housing options for upper-class students. The scope, design, and financing of any potential new facilities are being carefully studied. While there is no set timetable for the Board’s decisions, those studies will not be taken up until at least the fall of the 2013-14 academic year.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459